Rejzl Anne Angchangco Awit
THE Filipino language has become foreign for most Filipinos. My parents raised me to be fluent in English. Growing up, I read novels written by American authors like Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew. I was also fond of watching television shows on channels like Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, so as to widen my English vocabulary. I grew up believing that speaking in English fluently would put me to the honor’s list or would land me in a high paying job.
Buwan ng Wika is celebrated during the month of August. It is a time for us to appreciate more our own language. The Buwan ng Wika here in the Philippines is often celebrated with activities organized by schools and organizations. Yet, whether or not we fully understand the essence of our own language is rather personal, something that goes beyond the wearing of our baro’t sayas, and barong tagalogs.
The word “Filipinos” did not exist until the coming of the Spaniards. In fact, we did not have a sense of nationhood during those times. We were divided into different barangays that fought with one another. The pre-colonial era was a time when one was considered powerful depending on the number of barangays he conquered.
When the Spaniards came; Filipinos slowly developed a sense of nationhood. People from all over the archipelago had the common knowledge of being a part of one country, the Philippines. Yet, people from the different provinces still had the sense of individualism. They spoke their own languages. There was no proper communication among the different provinces, which, in turn, caused the fall of many Filipinos who fought against the Spaniards.
On November 12, 1937, the first national assembly in the Philippines approved the law creating a national language. Since then, the Filipino language has become a binding force for 60 million Filipino people.
The national language served as a reward for Filipinos after hundreds of years of being colonized by different world powers. Its establishment shows how Filipinos survived the test of times. Yet, it pains me to know that many in the new generation
no longer speak the language. Instead, they are drawn by the English language.
We have forgotten the nationalism that established the language that enabled Rizal to face the firing squad and made the Katipuneros draw their bolos to start the revolution. Taking our national language for granted means taking for granted the sacrifices of the people behind our independence.
The Filipino language has strengthened our national identity. It is because of the language that we speak that we are labeled as Filipinos.
Apparently, a lot of Filipinos forget the importance of their language. This is perhaps because of globalization, where the world’s superpower has slowly penetrated the lives of millions of Filipinos. Though we are no longer an American colony, our mentality of wanting to speak like Americans is a manifestation of our colonial mentality and the strong influence of the United States among Filipinos.
Our country’s history is one that is filled with trials. Yet, it has survived, and in turn, became a stronger nation. It is in this month of August that we try to reestablish the kind of nationalism that our heroes left for us to pass on to the future generations.
It is time that we love our national language by speaking our own.